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Nursing Care Plans for Memory Loss

By Celia SearlesApril 1, 2022
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When seeking out memory care for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it’s important to understand that best care practices are made possible through specialized nursing care plans. Nursing care plans for memory loss help caregiving teams and families make the most informed decisions when it comes to caring for people living with any form of dementia.

In this article:

What is a nursing care plan?

Nursing care plans help to coordinate consistent care across a variety of patient needs. They enable caregivers to provide care that’s personalized to a patient’s history, diagnosis, and treatment goals.

Nursing care plans help caregiving teams streamline the care process, according to the University of St. Augustine Health Sciences. They are used across all types of patient care settings, and most nurses are trained in crafting them. Nursing care plans for memory loss involve a more detailed plan that accounts for the specialized needs of a memory care patient.

Why are nursing care plans for memory loss necessary?

In a memory care setting, memory care-specific nursing care plans are essential for patients who rely on a variety of treatments and person-centered therapies to maintain a high quality of life. Because memory care patients may not remember what they need to feel better, a specialized nursing care plan for memory loss is necessary.

Memory care nursing plans are much more personal and require more hours of skilled observation — all with the goal of outlining needs and identifying suitable intervention techniques. Professional and consistent dementia care mapping (DCM) methods should be followed during observation periods to help make the most person-centered, individualized care plan possible.

How is a nursing care plan made?

Nurses and caregivers follow these general steps when creating a nursing care plan for memory loss:

  • Assessment. With clinical tests and observation, the patient’s nurses, caregivers, and health care team all coordinate their assessments of the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional states.
  • Diagnosis. After a thorough assessment is completed, a diagnosis is outlined. The North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) defines a nursing diagnosis as “a clinical judgment.”
  • Comorbidities. Nurses and caregivers should familiarize themselves with any of the patient’s existing health concerns, such as diabetes or a history of depression, especially when taking medications with contraindications. This additional information helps create the most informed care possible.
  • Signs and symptoms. This step is critical to understand how a patient is currently suffering, what their specific symptoms and behaviors are, and what is treatable. This step is also important to track the side effects of certain medications and whether a treatment or medicine is working for the patient.
  • Prioritizing. The patient’s care team should account for all of the patient’s needs and prioritize appropriately. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a common nursing tool used to understand which needs take priority. For example, a person’s physical needs — like healthy food and clean water — must be met before social and emotional needs can be attended to.
  • Clinical goals. Clinical goals are the short- or long-term outcomes the care team and patient are working towards. These goals should be realistic while still helping the patient improve current symptoms or comorbidities. Goals should also be measurable to help track progress.
  • Self-management. Self-management explores what a patient can do to ease their symptoms, manage pain, and live a fulfilling life. This step is more realistic for early-stage dementia. A self-aware memory care patient can practice things like puzzles, reading, and healthy lifestyle changes to help alleviate the progression of their symptoms.
  • Intervention techniques.  These are the individualized care services that nurses or caregivers provide. Intervention techniques can take the form of medication, behavioral therapies, activities, mobility assistance, environment modification, and more.

 What is an intervention and what should it address?

A key component of the nursing care plan for memory loss is the intervention stage. This stage enables the caregiver and the patient to work toward goals. Intervention techniques should always be person-centered and vary greatly from patient to patient, to help address a range of individual symptoms and needs. Interventions should always promote the patient’s entire well-being.

Specific examples of different intervention types can include the following:

  • Medication assistance and administration
  • Special diets or mealtimes to accommodate health and personal preference
  • Memory care-specific therapies and activities and other person-centered programming
  • Personalized de-escalation and behavior-modification techniques
  • Environment control to promote calm and happy surroundings tailored to individuals
  • Wandering prevention through community design, caregiver monitoring, or personal devices
  • Specialized dementia-friendly bathing assistance, like the popular Bathing Without a Battle techniques
  • Specialized assistance with all activities of daily living (ADLs) that accounts for personal preferences

Adjust nursing care plans for memory loss as needed

A nursing care plan for memory loss could take several revisions until you find what works best for your loved one. If your loved one isn’t showing significant improvement from their current nursing care plan, it’s never a bad idea to sit down with their care team and discuss new goals or intervention techniques, like different medicines, treatments, diets, or behavioral interventions. If you don’t feel heard by your loved one’s care team, seek out a second opinion if necessary.

Professionally managed and updated nursing care plans for memory loss are key to effective, best-in-class memory care.

What should families look for when seeking memory care?

To help find a best-in-class memory care community for a loved one, read up on the following topics:

A Place for Mom is committed to helping families find the best senior living options. With resources like touring checklists, free Senior Living Advisors, and informative articles, A Place for Mom helps families become informed.

If you need help finding a best-in-class memory care community in your area, reach out to a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom. This free service can help you find local memory care communities with the best care practices.


Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2018). Nursing care plans: guidelines for individualizing client care across life span. F. A. Davis Company.

McLeod, S. A. (2020, Dec 29). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Simply Psychology.

Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing. (2022). Nursing intervention.

NANDA International. Glossary of terms.

Quinn, C., Anderson, D., Toms, G., Whitaker, R., Edwards, R. T., Jones, C., Clare, L., (2014, March 8). Self-management in early-stage dementia: A pilot randomized controlled trial of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a self-management group intervention (the SMART study)National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Surr, C. A., Griffiths, A. W., & Kelley, R. (2018, January 26). Implementing Dementia Care Mapping as a practice development tool in dementia care services: a systematic reviewClinical Interventions in Aging.

University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. (2021). Nursing interventions: implementing your patient care plans.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider regarding any medical condition or treatment, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay treatment based on anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Celia Searles

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